tv Morehouse College Commencement Address CSPAN June 1, 2014 12:20am-12:36am EDT
happens overseas has a direct impact. we also live in a world that cannot afford to do without the moral voice, the clarion vision, and hopeful promise of the american dream. we cannot afford to choose between here and there. we are not the world's police men and we should not be the world policeman. to chooseafford between educating our children in america and supporting efforts to take on those who would kidnap hundreds of girls in nigeria. we cannot afford to choose between fighting the scores of heroin addiction here in vermont and ending this odd regime -- the assad regime's use of chemical weapons. we cannot afford to choose between providing health care at home and leading the global effort to rid the world of hiv aids. we are america.
we act and we lead. the stronger we will be at home, the stronger we will be leading a broad and the more peaceful and prosperous the world is, the better off you and the rest of the american people will be over time. is american who gets this the youngest u.s. senator ever to be elected from the green mountain state. you can look at at lake champlain -- i have lost my sense of direction. where is lake champlain? back that way? [laughter] and no it was senator patrick leahy who found the funds to clean it up. to theadded 125 acres green mountain national forest and preserve more than 350 vermont farms. you know that pat leahy. [applause] you like that pat leahy. you aress visible to
all the things that senator leahy has done to advance u.s. thighs abroad -- u.s. values abroad. statesto him, the united no longer exports antipersonnel landmines. [applause] vermonter,his one united states does not provide military training or assistance to foreign troops who have committed gross violations of human rights. [applause] in tirelessly promoting our values, the senator knows that the more united states is suspected, the more we play by the rules of the roads, the more easily we can get other countries to join with us in confronting threats and the safer the world will be for our children. even if you are one with me up to this point, i know that the third doubt may creep in. you may be thinking, there are people out there who can change the world, maybe. but i am not one of them.
that is your choice to make. don't raise the bar too high. you don't have to run human rights watch, lead a navy seal unit into battle, or perform emergency surgery on refugees overnight. start by doing what is in your power to do now. louis brandeis once said the only title in democracies superior to that of president is that of citizen. i believe that. every day you can commit a small act of kindness, you are changing someone's world. every day you involve yourself in local politics, you tutor in a school, you write even a small check for your favorite cause, or even just speak out against the injustice you see around you , you are changing your slice of the world. start there, but please don't stop there. i know it all seems daunting. one of my favorite expressions
is never compare your insides to someone else's outsides. when i sat where you sit, i was convinced that everyone else had it all sorted out. i was the only one who had no idea what would come next. journalisted up as a in the former yugoslavia a year after my college graduation, i watched seasoned war correspondents who seemed so sure of themselves and i tried to hide my fears, of physical safety but also of fear for failing to do my job right. i will tell you why one should never compare the churn one feels inside to others exterior,. -- calm. i went to work in the white house in 2009. after arriving, i was called to my first meeting with the new president in the oval office. i was thrilled. the trouble was, i could not find the oval office. [laughter] nobody passed out maps of the
west wing. so i googled. i printed out a small map from the washington post website, which was unfortunately not drawn to scale, and proceeded to get completely lost. but the time i found my way, and i was supposed to lead the -- to my i was late first meeting with the president of the united states. i was also seven months pregnant at the time and was breathless and discombobulated. when i walked in, i sat down awkwardly among my colleagues, who had had no choice to start the meeting without me, and i sat down the water bottle that every pregnant woman keeps nearby. unfortunately, as soon as my know -- bottle, and i sorry. touchedas that bottle the surface of the centuries-old
coffee table in front of me, and arm reached over and remove the unsanitary item from the you of the 44th president of the united states. at the time, i thought this was a truly exceptionally mortifying experience, but when i trolled -- told the story was before, publicly, my colleagues approached me. the same colleagues that strode around as if they had worked at the white house from the beginning of time, and they told me some version of the same story. they had all gotten lost on their first trip to the oval. they had just not told anyone. when you get into the real world, is easy to believe that you, and only you, are the only one who does not belong. even when you reach the pinnacle of your career, you will know your own weaknesses better than anyone. you will have unique insight into all that you have not yet mastered. advocate, the human
have referredst to our heads as batcave, where the doubts, bats, fly around. although the bats do not ever really go away, you begin to realize that everyone has their own version of the batcave. the people who change the world are not those who slay the bats. they simply ignores their insecurities and forge ahead, unafraid to fall flat, but quietly determined to land and do right. that is what i have for you, class of 2014. the world is plenty messed up, but you can help change it. we need you to stay engaged both at home and abroad and no matter what your insides are telling you, or how assured others seem on the outside, you, as in you personally, each of you, can make a profound difference if
you set your mind to it. you have lived in the shadow of the vermont peaks for four years and i urge you to make it your task to overcome mountains that others have found too high to scale. i am confident that you will do great things in the years ahead, but you also have it in your power right now to do good things, to notice what goes on around you, and to undertake small acts of kindness that will change someone plus world in the here and now. letting me share this glorious day with you, and i wish to satisfaction among personally, and great impact in the world around you in the years ahead, and above all, i congratulate you 2014 -- class of 2014. thank you. [applause]
>> homeland security secretary jeh johnson address the graduating class this year at his alma mater, morehouse college. he formerly served as assistant u.s. attorney and department counsel, writing the report that paved the repeal -- the way for the repeal of don't ask, don't tell. this is 15 minutes. [applause]
>> president wilson, and chairman davidson, other members of the board of trustees, faculty, alumni, members of the morehouse community, graduates, and most of all, the family members here who prayed and worked hard to see your son, grandson, brother, nephew, or cousin get to this day. nephew, or cousin get to this day. all, i'm sorry about the weather. tot of my job is to respond bad weather, but i cannot prevent it. that me say to my brothers in 2014, it is damp, but do not let it dampen your spirits. it is only water. is -- i begin by expressing my optimism about the future of morehouse college. i lost the election for senior class president 36 years ago. i lost to the superior candidate
, which launched him on his trajectory towards the office he holds today. for the last 36 years, it has been obvious to many that john was destined to one day assume the presidency of morehouse college. he possesses the right combination of academic experience, administrative experience, fundraising tenacity, leadership instincts, charisma, intelligence, evangelical fervor, faith, character, and love of the school. he is the right man at the right place at the right time for the job. the better candidate won the presidency 36 years ago. i have finally recovered from my landslide loss and have settled for being a member of the president's cabinet. [laughter] today, i will not deliver some important announcement or major
policy address on homeland security or immigration reform, so if there is any member of the press watching or listening for that reason, you are about to be disappointed. i want to talk rectally to the morehouse graduates here. you -- talk directly to the morehouse graduates here. you, my brothers. i want to talk about what this institution means to me. and what it should mean to you for the rest of your life. as a student and now a graduate of morehouse college, you have chosen to travel the same road , john, spike, martin, charles, jerome, james, juhl, rodney,ynard, train, and the other members of the class of 1979 who are here traveled the day we left this institution 35 years ago. meanchool in this place
everything to us. we owe it much, far more than the value of a four-year college education. morehouse is part of us, and it is a large part of what we have become today. august, 1975, i arrived here a boy. 1979, i left here a man with a mission. arrived here a young man who never wanted to be at the center of attention. i could never imagine speaking here like this. in my house during my high was a reason to celebrate. in my house, the only time i ever heard my mother after a
four letter word was when she opened my report card and looked at my grades. in fact, you are looking at someone who never really got successfully beyond 10th grade math. i took ninth-grade grade math in ninth grade and flunked. took 10th grade math, 11th grade math, 12th grade math and flunked the regents exam. my high school down and that high school guidance counselor -- my high school guidance counselor told my mother she should look at to your college for her son. i was tuned out and did not care. my mother was distraught. my father in his quiet wisdom prodded me to think about morehouse college. by good fortune, i visited morehouse homecoming weekend. i could feel the energy and excitement on this campus.
i saw the proud young black men who walked this campus. i was impressed at the sight and sound of several hundred black men singing in unison about pledging their life to this institution and ties more brotherly. i got a look at the ladies across the street. though i had never been here before in my life, something about this place was calling me. by the time i arrived here in 1975, however, i was ill in a fog. i still had not caught fire. filling week, i recall out an index card for some basic personal information. i got to the line that asked major and did not even know what to put down. i did not even know what it was understood in studying here. i looked at my father, who said, for lack of an obvious